‘Everything Grew Larger Than Life in the Steamy Hothouse of Darwin and the People Were No Exception.’ How Important Is Place in This Novel?

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‘Everything grew larger than life in the steamy hothouse of Darwin and the people were no exception.’ How important is place in this novel? Peter Goldsworthy’s Maestro demonstrates the importance of setting in understanding characters such as the protagonists Paul Crabbe and Eduard Keller. Written in a retrospective narrative from Paul Crabbe’s point of view and how the settings of ‘steamy’ Darwin, ‘suburban’ Adelaide and ‘hypocritical’ Vienna affected him. Upon moving from Adelaide to Darwin, Paul immediately falls in love with the ‘city of booze, blow and blasphemy’. Darwin is the backdrop to the sensual addiction Paul develops and feeds his heightened sense as a ‘steamy and lush hothouse’. Totally different from Adelaide, Paul…show more content…
When Paul leaves the setting of Darwin to attend school, he takes an arrogance that let him believe Keller ‘had taught all that was in his power to teach.’ In comparison to ‘lush’ Darwin, Melbourne and Adelaide are mundane and suburban and perhaps symbolise the direction Paul’s future will take, as he rejected Keller and the incomplete lessons he strove to teach. Paul realises he can’t bridge the tragic gulf between talent and genius in his travels of Europe as he ignored Keller’s advice of ‘a little hurt now, to save a wasted life’. Vienna is a city of culture and music to Paul and the setting is important in understanding how he differs from his mentor, the Maestro. The settings of Goldsworthy’s Maestro are important in understanding the history and context of each character and their actions. The settings are significant in the novel as they contrast the characters to their surroundings and develop meaning such as Keller’s chosen isolation in Darwin. Each place in the novel symbolises differences and similarities and Goldsworthy positions the reader to observe the way the character understands and interacts with their surroundings, be it Darwin, Adelaide, the Swan or
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